Gold Winner 2023 – Black House (Casa Negra) - Architecture Collection
Gold Winner of the Houzee Awards 2023

Black House (Casa Negra)

Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Residential

Architect / Designer:

Oliver Schütte


A-01 (A Company / A Foundation)

Design Team:

A-01 (A Company / A Foundation), Oliver Schütte and Marije van Lidth de Jeude with Ronald Carvajal in collaboration with ARS Arquitectos Ingenieros, Andrés Argüello and Mariela Sosa with Fabiola Santamaria


Azure Peace


Costa Rica
The Black House is located in Dominicalito, a small village along southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The bioclimatic building design has been developed as a new prototype for the modular No Footprint House series (NFH). The climate-responsive design of the NFH variations is based on passive strategies such as site-specific positioning and the use of natural resources for cross ventilation, solar shading and energy, as well as rainwater harvesting and biological water filtration. Moreover, industrial building techniques and prefabricated components are used to create a high level of efficiency that can be delivered to any target location. Since the creation of the original NFH prototype in 2019, we developed new and alternative construction materials that allow us to continuously lower the environmental impact of the overall project while stimulating local and circular economies. One example is the wooden components of the modular NFH toolbox that are made of laminated and certified teak, which is sustainably produced in the northern region of Guanacaste in Costa Rica. The architecture and its building materials is what we typically refer to as the “hardware” or “object” in our transdisciplinary work. On the other side, we have a strong focus on the target population and project participants, the so-called “subject” or “software”. In the case of the Black House and the NFH series, the concept of “software” responds not only to the individual residents of each home but much rather to the group of all home owners that we work for, as well as the people who produce the specific building components. An informative network has been created to inform each resident about the latest developments and techniques to boost any sustainability aspect for the personal way of life. Beyond the topics of the built environment and construction itself, we offer solutions for mobility-related issues, gardening and permaculture, as well as social and local initiatives that address all kinds of areas that contribute to the production or reduction of emissions, garbage, pollution and conflict among human beings or humans and their natural surrounding habitat. This part of our project is what we refer to as the No Footprint Community (NFC). The Black House is one of many building typologies that can be configured on the base of the NFH toolbox. The project has been designed for a US-based couple to fulfill their dream of a life in the Tropics. The private and shared spaces on the main level are connected with an upper deck view platform and a sunken workshop, which integrates smoothly within the site-specific topography. Ample mezzanines are created on all floors to emphasize the indoor-outdoor quality of the individual spaces and its potential outward extensions. Mobile and sliding wall sections project the building interiors to the outside, a key quality of tropical architecture. The boundaries of the house and its surrounding natural habitat are blurred in a symbiotic relationship among nature and the built environment.

A-01 (A Company / A Foundation)

A-01 is an interdisciplinary office for design and development. Our work methodology aims to break the boundaries of a single professional perspective in order to allow for a holistic approach that shapes our products. We envision a long-term impact that involves a responsible use of natural resources and economic growth, as well as an equal social development in a high quality spatial surrounding. This complex set of factors is simply referred to as “the 4 E” of integral sustainability and regeneration: Environment, Economy, Equality and Engineering. A topical focus is set according to the specific project parameters and target location.

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